Merchants are always looking for new avenues to grow their business by gaining more customers, selling more products and retaining existing customers for repeat purchases. While the sales happen both online and in-store, increasingly merchants are turning to B2C and B2B Marketplaces for selling their products.
While B2C marketplaces are extremely successful in pulling prospective buyers, for B2B merchants, online B2B marketplaces are still an untapped opportunity to gain access to a fairly huge size of new audiences. Which probably a year back never existed. The digital acceleration fueled by pandemic and millennial B2B buyers who are turning to digital mediums for their purchase decisions has propelled the surge in B2B marketplaces popularity. In this blog, learn about successfully selling on top B2B marketplaces.
B2C and B2B Marketplaces – The Difference
Top B2C marketplaces known globally include Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. Many B2C marketplaces also have a B2B version.
Similar to B2C marketplaces, a B2B marketplace, brings together multiple sellers and buyers at a single online platform. B2B buyers have the option to compare different products offered by different B2B sellers, negotiate prices and can buy products from different sellers all under one digital roof.
B2B and B2C marketplace differ from each other based on the features required to fulfil unique needs of B2B buyers.
- Placing orders in bulk
- Proving special discounts on quantity of products
- Online purchase order
- Custom catalog
- Quick order access – search multiple SKUs and add them in shopping cart
- Provide special payment options like cheque, subscription and more
- Customer profiling
- Enhanced navigation
- Negotiations and RFPs
- Split order shipping
- Print catalog PDF
- Mobile commerce
- Dealers’ locator
- Multi-channel integration
Here is an illustrative example of B2B buying journey:
Advantages of B2B Marketplaces
B2B marketplaces are preferred by both manufacturers and distributors. With B2B marketplaces, manufacturers distribute products to more customers and distributors expand their sales channels. Thus B2B marketplaces are beneficial for all types of B2B sellers.
Low Cost to Entry
B2B marketplaces provide a low entry cost in the online selling space. B2B sellers are not required to invest in developing their own eCommerce store. There are enormous cost savings on the technology platforms, special B2B features, system upgrades, IT infrastructure, and technical maintenance of the store. Expenses are cut-off to an extent on marketing the store. B2B sellers also do not have to worry about the latest UI/UX as that is kept up-to-date by marketplaces themselves. While having their own eCommerce store offers a lot of control compared to marketplaces, B2B sellers can start their online business swiftly with little upfront investment.
Easy Set-up of Storefront
Setting up a store on the marketplace is easy. Setting up your own B2B store can take months. It could turn to a couple of years till the systems are ready to deliver. Comparatively, on a B2B marketplace, B2B merchants just need to create a B2B account, load a digital product catalog with relevant and accurate product information and start selling. This helps B2B sellers to kick-start their eCommerce journey faster.
Gain Visibility and Access to New Audiences
The most significant benefit of a B2B marketplace is that B2B merchants are not required to build an audience. They gain access to an already engaged audience that visits the marketplace. A marketplace expands the overall reach to new prospects. It opens doors to global markets and provides the ability to B2B sellers to be able to test and position new products in existing markets OR existing products in new markets.
Choosing the Right B2B Marketplace
The other complicated part pertaining to selling on B2B marketplaces is shortlisting which is the best to start selling on. There are many options of these marketplaces available to choose from. Based on their popularity and other factors related to technology, integrated features, there are several choices available. Also, there are marketplaces that serve a broad audience and some cater to a niche audience. While some are product category specific, some offer several product categories to be listed.
Perform research to identify which marketplace is best suited considering the product/service served and focused geographies. The study should also entail identifying whether the marketplace reaches/attracts your prospective audience.
Top B2B Marketplaces
Here is a list of a few B2B marketplaces that would help funnel down to some of the largest and most popular B2B marketplaces.
- Alibaba – Launched almost 2 decades back, the global marketplace has millions of products and serves tons of B2B buyers and B2B suppliers.
- ThomasNet – One of the leading B2B online platforms for sellers and buyers sourcing. It has over 0.5M suppliers on its platform.
- IndiaMart – Largest B2B marketplace in Indian sub-continent and follows a similar model as Alibaba.
- eWorldTrade – US-based B2B marketplace is the world’s fastest-growing B2B platform. It connects sellers and buyers from over 220 countries.
- TradeIndia – India’s second-largest B2B marketplace with more than 3M registered buyers and sellers.
- EC21 – Originated in Korea, this marketplace operates for China, Korea, and globally. With over 2M registered members and over 7M products, it has around 3.5M B2B buyers.
- DHGate – The marketplace specifically targets wholesale consumer products with over 1.2M global sellers and more than 10M buyers.
- Amazon Business – Just as Amazon has a thriving B2C marketplace, Amazon Business is a specific B2B portal for connecting B2B buyers with B2B sellers
- FGM Vendors – This wholesale marketplace operates like an online tradeshow.
- Wholesale Central – Operating since 1996, it is one of the largest wholesale directories with active wholesalers and wholesale products listed on its platform
- Joor – Specific to the fashion industry it is one of the largest B2B marketplaces with over 1.5M retailers and 1,500 well-known brands
- Field Engineer – A niche B2B marketplace that focuses on hiring engineers from the telecom industry
Disadvantages of B2B Marketplaces
With all the benefits of being able to start selling quickly on marketplaces with minimal investments, selling on B2B marketplaces also has its challenges. Ensure to evaluate all the sides of the coin before beginning with B2B marketplaces.
While increasing the online sales channels opens up new doors for business expansion, it also makes eCommerce operations and management more complex. Data management across multiple platforms is time-consuming and difficult and brings its own set of challenges. Product listing on own B2B website is different from listing the same product on marketplaces. The data format and structure vary. Thus, more hands-on the deck. Learn more about managing effective product listings.
Apart from product catalog management, inventory management is even trickier. Since you would be having the same products listed at multiple online platforms, if inventory isn’t real-time updated, you may end of overselling and leave a dent on the overall customer experience.
Last but not the least, B2B marketplaces operate by their own rules so control may reside with the marketplaces. They may decide to change support prices, do not support products offered by you or advertise other B2B sellers or a particular product category.
B2B Marketplaces provides access to millions of shoppers when your stores on these marketplaces are well managed. You need an expert eCommerce growth partner who can assist you with better visibility and positioning of their products on the appropriate marketplaces.